Antedatings of "mother's ruin"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 19 21:15:06 UTC 2014

"mother's ruin", gin (OED: 1933)

The earliest I found is just a Google Books snippet, but the title was
published in 1915 and it looks plausible. "The Secret Sea-plane" (page
150) by (deep breath...) Cyril Arthur Edward Justice Waggoner Ranger
Gull (pen name: Guy Thorne):

... up ' mother's ruin ' like a canary. One of the gals, Alice, used
to slip into Yarmouth till the old lady woke up about six, and began
to get Lieutenant Lodz's dinner ready.

The first verifiable example come from "Shadows; love story" by H.
Grahame Richards, published in New York in 1917:

"By the way, what do you mean by 'mother's ruin '— drugs?" She made
pretence to be convulsed with laughter. Then she regarded him
quizzically through the cigar smoke. "My hat! But you are a ninny!
Have you never heard of gin before? — Sweet as sin and as cruel as the
devil, when you know it.

Another comes from J. Hartley Manners' "Out there; a dramatic
composition in three parts" written in 1917, published in New York in
1918. The author's foreword, dated January 1918, says the play was
shown in New York from March 27th, 1917. The line is spoken by a
character "familiarly known as "Ol' Velvet", because of her partiality
to the beverage known by that nickname -- gin":

"Velvet," dear-doctor. "Mother's ruin," they calls it.

Finally, some screenshots, and 1918 and 1919 Australian and NZ
newspaper examples here:


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